AS HE sits back in the chair to smile for a picture, he laughs.
“It’s not often I’m sitting still,” he said, smiling.
Just as soon as it is taken, the Tullahoma City Schools (TCS) maintenance director, Tim Jensen, is back up and at it making sure the next order of business is ready to tackle.
In his line of work, time is of the essence. Jensen and his crew are responsible for keeping the more than 3,000 students of Tullahoma City Schools housed safely, along with teachers and staff. From heating and air, to electrical, to making sure each school’s oven works, they have a hand in making sure it is all in tip-top shape.
“I take a lot of pride that with our department we do everything in house except for roofing and concrete,” he said. “We do our carpentry; build our cabinets; our own electrical; plumbing; painting; and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC). We sub very little out, unless it’s a project.
Jensen started his career with the school system in 1990 after being hired as the HVAC technician. However, he would help with many more maintenance issues due to his extensive experience with fixing things. Since childhood, Jensen has been developing his talent in being handy. As a child he would tag along with his grandfather who worked as a custodian and maintenance man at a school in Illinois. He was also fond of taking apart and reassembling lawn mowers as a child.
“I’ve always wanted to do maintenance, because I’ve always been handy,” said Jensen. “When I was a kid, I would tear lawn mowers apart and then build them back.
By tearing it apart, I could figure out what was wrong with it. But even if I couldn’t figure it out, I would still be able to put it back together and let the person know that I couldn’t find what was wrong with that.”
As he got older, he worked with his father installing sheetrock. Jensen’s path would take a few more turns but would eventually find him following his dreams and taking the position with TCS.
Four years ago, he accepted the position as director and has been working hard to make his crew the best they can be. With a crew of 10 under his supervision, Jensen said he is most proud of his crew and their turnaround when it comes to completing projects.
“Most of my crew are all certified in all they do, and they are all good at what they do,” he said. “I take pride in having most of our work orders done within a 24-hour period. From the time they submit it to the time we get it fixed, unless we have to order parts. A lot of schools I talk to have a much larger turnaround. Some have to wait a week before their heat and air work.”
Jensen and his men’s abilities were put to the test a few months back. Just days before the schools opened their doors for the 2022-23 school year, a surge protector failed causing a small fire at the West Middle School.
Jensen and his team immediately went into action. The classroom it affected was only out of commission just one day following the beginning of school.
“We were fortunate in that it happened the weekend before school started, and we only had them out one day as far as being in the classroom. By Tuesday they could use it again. That’s drying everything, plus the 10,000 gallons that the fire department put in there. [We installed] new ceiling tiles, new duct work, and new diffusers. Unfortunately, the teacher lost her book collection, but we are thankful that no one got hurt and everything did what it was supposed to. That’s what we work for. We get all our inspections done and everything is taken care of.”
Jensen said incidents like those are less likely to happen thanks to things like their preventive maintenance program.
The program was implemented thanks to Jensen’s willingness to embrace new technology.
“They say you can’t teach a dog new tricks, but that’s a lie,” he laughed. “I hired a secretary to help with the paperwork and technological side of things. I really wanted to implement a preventive maintenance program. In the past, we’ve missed on the preventative maintenance program. This one, we have it set up on a computer. We can tell it when it needs to be done, and it will remember and then generate the order and then we’ll know to take care of it. Everything is just more streamlined with technology.”
Now, 33 years into it, he said his job never gets boring, and he is proud to be able to help maintain these wellbuilt buildings.
“It’s been an interesting ride,” he said. “I know that there isn’t a ceiling or crawl space, closet, or nook or cranny that I haven’t been in. Our buildings are old compared to the rest of the school systems in Tennessee. But I would put these buildings up against any of the newer ones. As far as the way they are built, kept, and are functional. All in all they are pretty reliable buildings.” GN